Five Self-Care Tips for Mothers Working Outside The Home
“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did - that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that - a parent's heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”
Motherhood--the toughest job on the planet. A job where you invest all of who you are—hopes, dreams, and fears. The rewards often come in the form of smiling faces, neck hugs, and declarations of “Mommy, you’re the best!”
But it’s not always this warm and lovely.
There are often days less lovely; days that leave us questioning whether we’re cut out for motherhood, where we wonder if we’re scarring our children for life (yes, even therapist moms question themselves). Those are the days we’re certain that we not only have to save for our children’s college tuition, but also their future therapy.
Trust me. We all have days like this.
Motherhood requires every molecule of your being and every fiber of your energy. Mothers know this. Yet, mothers are notorious for neglecting their own needs. They master the art of caretaking and nurturing…others, but often neglect caring for and nurturing themselves.
Why is it so easy to neglect ourselves?
The challenge for many mothers is to fight against the idea that caring for ourselves is selfish. The fear that cultivating a routine where our needs are at the forefront will make us “less motherly.”
How would our lives change if we allowed mothers to live by the belief that caring for ourselves first and foremost is one of the most loving things we can do for the people we love?
What if prioritizing your needs makes you a better mother/wife/girlfriend/sister/woman/human?
What if prioritizing yourself meant you had MORE to give?
I know. Lovely idea, isn’t it?
You’re probably saying, “Yeah, right, Lady! How am I supposed to find “me time” between work, the kids schedules, my partner’s schedule?”
Look, I’m not saying this is going to be easy. You’re going to be pushing against an avalanche of conflicting emotions, disgruntled children, maybe even disgruntled partners as you begin to change the script up on everyone. You’ll be fighting against judgmental people who will raise their eyebrows at you and leave you wondering if you truly are being selfish?
But there is a difference between self-care and being selfish. And if you begin to practice the divine art of self-care then the people you want to care for most will be receiving the best version of you.
So hang in there and let me guide you on how to establish these new habits.
Here are 5 Self-Care Tips for Mothers Working Outside The Home:
1. Make Yourself a Priority.
If I were to ask you to make a list all the important people in your life, would I find your name on it? The most common issue I hear from mothers is struggling with the guilt of doing something for themselves.
Many mothers who work outside of the home feel particularly guilty spending their time away from work doing anything that is not family-related. They rationalize that they spend (x) number of hours at the office and couldn’t possibly take more time away from their home life. Yet when we fail to care for our mind, body, spirit we quickly become depleted, irritable, and sometimes even ill.
You are the cup that is used to fill everyone else’s. What happens when you don’t refill your cup? That’s right. You’re left empty.
The saying, “If Mama ain’t happy nobody’s happy,” rings true for a reason!
2. Identify Your Needs.
I often ask distressed clients, “What do you need?” That question often causes people to take a long pause. They have either never been asked or never taken the time to identify their needs.
When our life consists of serving and meeting the needs of others it can be easy to lose touch with our needs/wants/desires which, ultimately, go unmet. This can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, exhaustion. You must be aware of your needs.
You can begin to cultivate deeper self-awareness by practicing yoga, meditation, mindfulness, or journaling, to name a few. Check in with yourself regularly throughout the day. Notice what you’re feeling in your body—is there tension anywhere? Do you notice any dull or aching sensations? Are you tired? Hungry? What do you need?
3. Ask For What You Need.
Once you’ve identified what you need you must be willing to ASK for what you need. Time and time again I hear mothers say that they want the people in their lives to “just help.” With great frustration they will insist that those who love them “should know by now” what to do.
Maybe. Maybe not.
People are often caught up in their own worlds and busy trying to figure out how to get their own needs met. They may not even notice that you’re struggling especially if you’ve designed a life where you are the beloved Superwoman.
You have to be able to ask for what you need—to get your own needs met.
Asking someone for help is not a sign of weakness nor is it an automatic indication that the relationship is flawed. Your loved ones may not intuitively know what you need, but you may find them willing to help once they know what to do.
4. Set Aside 30 Minutes of “Me Time” Every Day.
If you’ve made it this far down the list without cursing me or laughing hysterically at my suggestions, I applaud you!
Stay with me on this next one.
Yes, I encourage all mothers, including working mothers, to find 30 minutes every day dedicated solely and completely to refilling their cup! Those 30 minutes can be used for cardio, bubble baths, reading a book for leisure—any activity that is dedicated to you.
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find 30 minutes. Ask yourself, how much time CAN you gift yourself? 15 minutes? 5 minutes?
The goal is to get you into the habit of setting aside time for yourself on a regular basis. If the guilt sets in remind yourself that you are making time to care for the mother of your children.
5. Make Time for For Your Tribe.
If we are going to get through this Motherhood Journey, then we will need a strong tribe there to support us and to witness our highs/lows. Often finding the time, energy for people outside of our home can be an even greater challenge than finding time for a bubble bath. Yet humans are wired for connection and having people that we can spend time with, who leave us feeling seen, heard, and restored is essential.
Find time at least once a month where you gather with your beloved tribe. Go to dinner, have coffee, book a spa date and converse, share, cry, laugh—restore your soul!
This also models for your children the importance of nurturing relationships.
Listen, I get it. This is tough. I didn’t say it would be easy, I said it was essential to ensuring your health—mind, body, spirit.
The role of motherhood is sacred. It is a gift. It is a calling. It will require you to invest 100% of you. It will be the most vulnerable role you find yourself in and none of it will be easy. This immense responsibility and the energy that it requires begs for you to care for yourself.
Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint. A race which you must be tending to yourself every step of the way.
Take good care of yourself, so that you will be able to care for those who need you most.
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